Plate Boundary Systems: Understanding the dynamics that affect the human habitat

The dynamic processes of the solid Earth, focused at the plate boundaries, are interlinked in complex ways and are as yet not fully understood. They can often only be observed in a limited way or indirectly and exhibit properties which vary across a large range of spatial and temporal scales. We aim to identify causes, controlling mechanisms and interactions and develop corresponding process models. This allows for development of new strategies for the human habitat with a view to dealing with natural hazards and global change.

We continuously observe plate boundaries using multiple instrumentation and establish data series, from satellites and from the Earth’s surface including also an integration of terrestrial and shoreline-crossing instrumentation networks. We combine observations of plate boundary deformation, earthquake rupture, and the activity of volcanic systems with imaging of in situ processes as well as of the temporal variability and coupling of processes. This is supplemented by geophysical/ geodetic/geological field campaigns that yield high ‐ resolution information. We focus regionally on appropriate "natural laboratories", mainly at prototypical plate boundaries. We also explore the constitutive laws of the underlying geo ‐ materials using experimental methods. Numerical modelling as well as experimental simulation ultimately serve the analysis of quantitative process models, the development of efficient monitoring strategies, and lay the basis to a new generation of hazard assessment strategies.

Key research questions:

  • How can time series of processes at plate boundaries be observed and integrated  to analyze key parameters of interactions and coupling?
  • How can properties of geomaterials be quantified and scaling techniques be developed that enable us to link the constitutive laws determined experimentally in the laboratory with field observations and modelling?
  • How can process interactions be quantified and models be developed for complex geosystems?

Latest publications:

Gonçalves, G. O., Lana, C., Scholz, R., Buick, I. S., Gerdes, A., Kamo, S. L., Corfu, F., Rubatto, D., Wiedenbeck, M., Nalini, H. A., Oliveira, L. C. A. (2017 online): The Diamantina Monazite: A New Low-Th Reference Material for Microanalysis. - Geostandards and Geoanalytical Research.
DOI: http://doi.org/10.1111/ggr.12192

Metzger, S., Schurr, B., Ratschbacher, L., Sudhaus, H., Kufner, S.-K., Schöne, T., Zhang, Y., Perry, M., Bendick, R. (2017 online): The 2015 Mw7.2 Sarez strike-slip earthquake in the Pamir interior: Response to the underthrusting of India's western promontory. - Tectonics.
DOI: http://doi.org/10.1002/2017TC004581

Hamann, C., Fazio, A., Ebert, M., Hecht, L., Wirth, R., Folco, L., Deutsch, A., Reimold, W. U. (2017 online): Silicate liquid immiscibility in impact melts. - Meteoritics and Planetary Science.
DOI: http://doi.org/10.1111/maps.12907

Brune, S., Corti, G., Ranalli, G. (2017 online): Controls of inherited lithospheric heterogeneity on rift linkage: Numerical and analogue models of interaction between the Kenyan and Ethiopian rifts across the Turkana depression. - Tectonics.
DOI: http://doi.org/10.1002/2017TC004739

Rocholl, A., Schaltegger, U., Gilg, H. A., Wijbrans, J., Böhme, M. (2017 online): The age of volcanic tuffs from the Upper Freshwater Molasse (North Alpine Foreland Basin) and their possible use for tephrostratigraphic correlations across Europe for the Middle Miocene. - International Journal of Earth Sciences.
DOI: http://doi.org/10.1007/s00531-017-1499-0

Müller, J., Efthimiopoulos, I., Jahn, S., Koch-Müller, M. (2017 online): Effect of temperature on the pressure-induced spin transition in siderite and iron-bearing magnesite: a Raman spectroscopy study. - European Journal of Mineralogy, 29, 3.
DOI: http://doi.org/10.1127/ejm/2017/0029-2645

Tan, X.-B., Lee, Y.-H., Xu, X.-W., Cook, K. (2017 online): Cenozoic exhumation of the Danba antiform, eastern Tibet: Evidence from low-temperature thermochronology. - Lithosphere.
DOI: http://doi.org/10.1130/L613.1

Watenphul, A., Malcherek, T., Wilke, F., Schlüter, J., Mihailova, B. (2017 online): Composition–thermal expandability relations and oxidation processes in tourmaline studied by in situ Raman spectroscopy. - Physics and Chemistry of Minerals.
DOI: http://doi.org/10.1007/s00269-017-0894-1

López-Moro, F. J., López-Plaza, M., Gutiérrez-Alonso, G., Fernández-Suárez, J., López-Carmona, A., Hofmann, M., Romer, R. L. (2017 online): Crustal melting and recycling: geochronology and sources of Variscan syn-kinematic anatectic granitoids of the Tormes Dome (Central Iberian Zone). A U–Pb LA-ICP-MS study. - International Journal of Earth Sciences.
DOI: http://doi.org/10.1007/s00531-017-1483-8

Wang, D., Guo, J. (2017 online): Late Archean high-pressure pelitic granulites in the Yinshan Block, North China Craton. - Precambrian Research.
DOI: http://doi.org/10.1016/j.precamres.2017.03.027

Zimmer, M., Walter, T. R., Kujawa, C., Gaete, A., Franco-Marin, L. (2017 online): Thermal and gas dynamic investigations at Lastarria volcano, Northern Chile. The influence of precipitation and atmospheric pressure on the fumarole temperature and the gas velocity. - Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research.
DOI: http://doi.org/10.1016/j.jvolgeores.2017.03.013

Thomas, R., Davidson, P. (2017 online): Hingganite-(Y) from a small aplite vein in granodiorite from Oppach, Lusatian Mts., E-Germany. - Mineralogy and Petrology.
DOI: http://doi.org/10.1007/s00710-016-0489-4

Van Roosbroek, N., Hamann, C., McKibbin, S., Greshake, A., Wirth, R., Pittarello, L., Hecht, L., Claeys, P., Debaille, V. (2017): Immiscible silicate liquids and phosphoran olivine in Netschaëvo IIE silicate: Analogue for planetesimal core–mantle boundaries. - Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 197, pp. 378—395.
DOI: http://doi.org/10.1016/j.gca.2016.10.042

Kuleci, H., Ulven, O. I., Rybacki, E., Wunder, B., Abart, R. (2017): Reaction-induced fracturing in a hot pressed calcite-periclase aggregate. - Journal of Structural Geology, 94, pp. 116—135.
DOI: http://doi.org/10.1016/j.jsg.2016.11.009

Zhou, R., Schoenbohm, L. M., Sobel, E. R., Davis, D. W., Glodny, J. (2017): New constraints on orogenic models of the southern Central Andean Plateau: Cenozoic basin evolution and bedrock exhumation. - Geological Society of America Bulletin, 129, 1-2, pp. 152—170.
DOI: http://doi.org/10.1130/B31384.1